I love a heartwarming, feel-good romance story just as much as the next person, but sometimes, it’s those doomed cinematic relationships that tend to stick with you the most. One of the more interesting ill-fated couples I recently encountered was Rob (Cian Barry) and Holly (Abigail Hardingham) from Nina Forever. The new couple must endure the looming presence of Rob’s ex-girlfriend, Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy), who died recently in a car accident and happens to show up anytime they become intimate.

The pitch-black comedy touches on a lot of the complications that come with modern relationships and all the proverbial baggage we endure as a result of our previous romantic entanglements. It really struck me throughout the story just how well directors Ben and Chris Blaine perfectly explore those themes in Nina Forever, making me realize that some of my very favorite movie love affairs, particularly from the 1980s, ended up not-so-happily ever after.

Here’s a look at just some of my favorite doomed romances from that era in horror. (WARNING: Some of the following may reveal spoilers, so consider yourself warned!)

Paul and Angela – Sleepaway Camp: When precocious pre-teens Angela (Felissa Rose) and Paul (Christopher Collet) meet at Camp Arawak, the possibilities seem endless for their burgeoning young love in Robert Hiltzik’s Sleepaway Camp. Of course, I’m sure Paul never saw himself getting beheaded as one of those possibilities, which makes the romance he shares with Angela that summer just so damned tragic. Other than her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten), Paul was the only camper at Arawak who genuinely gave a damn about Angela and treated her like an actual human being instead of just that weird, shy girl who never talked to anyone and didn’t take too kindly to swimming, either.

It’s been over 30 years since Sleepaway Camp was released, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a finale that’s as unspeakably horrific as the events that befall young Paul and Angela—as well as their fellow campers—that unforgettable summer away from home in Hiltzik’s cult classic shocker.

Veronica and J.D. – HeathersIn a world filled with Heathers, Veronica (Winona Ryder) and J.D. (Christian Slater) are just the coolest of the cool. While Veronica is very much involved in the social politics of her high school, J.D. only recently moved into town, is very firmly “Mr. Anti-Establishment”, and the thought of someone else loathing her friends as much as she does really curls Veronica’s toes. The way they exchange banter is effortless, their chemistry is palpable, and their general disdain for the assholes in their high school unites them.

With that much pent-up angst, though—and let’s not forget teenage hormones—J.D. and Veronica’s love affair would come at a hefty price: the lives of one Heather, two revered jocks, and eventually J.D. himself, who decides he would rather die than live in conformity surrounded by Swatch Dogs and Diet Coke Heads. When Veronica thwarts his plan to blow up the entire student body at Westerburg High, he uses the bomb on himself as his lady-love watches his explosive suicide with a cigarette at the ready. That moment in Heathers may be steeped in darkly comedic tones, but make no mistake, the love J.D. and Veronica shared was still intensely real and deeply tragic in the end.

As the fictional band from Heathers, Big Fun, would say, “Teenage suicide, don’t do it.”

Seth Brundle and Veronica Quaife – The FlyFrom the very first moment he declares that he’s about to change the world, scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) captivates and intrigues investigative reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) in David Cronenberg’s iteration of The Fly. What I always thought was so incredibly fascinating about their relationship is how it evolves from being purely platonic into something truly special (if you pick up on all the great little character notes Cronenberg peppers into the story, it’s truly marvelous). And because both Seth and Ronnie are passionate, intelligent human beings, the way their romance evolves—and eventually devolves—is fascinating to watch.

Much like Cronenberg’s previous masterwork, Videodrome, The Fly is another examination of our fascination with flesh and the way modern technology can manipulate us and turn us into the monsters we fear the most. But as their relationship grows, Seth’s own paranoia becomes his biggest downfall when he decides to use his telepod and unknowingly ends up with an insect stowaway during the fateful transportation.

As he begins mutating into Brundlefly, Seth defiantly drives Veronica away, but her feelings for the cursed scientist prove to be too great for her to deny, especially once she discovers that she’s pregnant. As his condition continues to deteriorate, the human parts left of Seth give way to his fly-like instincts and the safety of Ronnie (and their unborn child) is put in jeopardy when Seth decides the only way they can all be together forever is to teleport together. The finale, with Davis’ character sobbingly pulling the trigger and blowing away her now monstrous lover, who has no semblance of humanity remaining, is such an emotional gut-punch moment for me that I will admit it still leaves me choked up each time I revisit it.

David Kessler and Alex Price – An American Werewolf in LondonWhile their relationship may have been short-lived, there’s no denying the passion shared between David Kessler (David Naughton) and Alex Price (Jenny Agutter) in An American Werewolf in London. David starts off as a patient under Nurse Price’s care after he and his best friend were attacked while backpacking through the moors, but their involvement quickly becomes more than just a fleeting case of “Florence Nightingale Syndrome” once David decides to stay with the generous Alex after he is discharged from the hospital.

The duo waste little time getting intimate, and while on the surface their involvement could seem like nothing more than a passionate tryst, there’s no denying the feelings shared between the characters of Alex and David. The final moments of AAWIL are filled with a shocking amount of heartbreak, as David is unable to control himself while in his lycanthropic form, despite the pleadings of a desperate Alex who exclaims, “I love you David”, as a last-ditch effort to bring him back to her. Instead, his animalistic urges cause him to lunge at her and be brutally shot to death.

The look on Agutter’s face in the final moments of John Landis’ masterpiece says everything about what they shared, and perfectly mimicked how I felt the first time I watched An American Werewolf in London.

Arnie Cunningham and Christine – ChristineIt may be easy to assume that if I were going to discuss tragic love affairs from Christine, it would make more sense to talk about Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) and his adorable girlfriend, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), but really, it is the relationship Arnie shares with his beloved car that always seemed far more deeply tragic and effective to me.

Due to Arnie’s strained relationship with his mother (Christine Belford, who also played Steve Sanders’ mom on the original 90210) and his own social awkwardness, the troubled teen yearns for female attention so badly that when he finds it in the form of the film’s titular car, it makes Arnie feel alive for the first time ever, instills confidence in himself, and also provides him with the female affection he never thought he’d have (something established in an early scene of the film as Arnie laments over his love life to his best friend, Dennis, played by John Stockwell).

Arnie’s own metamorphosis from a shy wallflower into a turtleneck-wearing stud of sorts perfectly mimics the transformation his car undergoes as well—a hauntingly perfect touch by director John Carpenter. The most unfortunate aspect of Christine is that Arnie becomes so consumed by his obsession with Christine that he is willing to jeopardize everything and everyone he knows and loves, making the ultimate sacrifice with his life in the end. Christine may be best-remembered by many for its badass car and amazing practical effects, but it’s that relationship between Arnie and the demonic Plymouth Fury that always resonated deeply with me as a fan of both the film and Stephen King’s novel.

Becky & Harry – CreepshowWhile we don’t know too much about them other than a bit of adultery going on at the expense of Leslie Nielsen’s character, you can’t help but fall in love with Harry (Ted Danson) and Becky (Gaylen Ross) from the “Something to Tide You Over” segment in George A. Romero’s Creepshow, especially since their bonds are so strong that they even return from their watery graves together to enact revenge.

I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself here, though, so let me back up. At the beginning of “Something to Tide You Over” we’re introduced to Danson’s character, Harry, after a jealous sociopath by the name of Richard Vickers (Nielsen) shows up on his doorstep, accusing Harry of sleeping with his wife. At gunpoint, Richard forces Harry to accompany him to a remote stretch of beachfront property he owns where he buries his wife’s lover up to his neck in the sand. Richard reveals to Harry that he’s done the same to Becky and the lovers are being condemned to a torturous death by drowning as the tide quickly approaches.

But even though Harry and Becky both die from Richard’s dastardly plan, death isn’t enough to contain them, and they return later in the evening to give their psychotic killer a taste of his own medicine.

Creepshow has been a film I’ve cherished as a fan for many years now and “Something to Tide You Over” still remains my favorite segment from Romero’s timeless anthology simply because revenge never seemed as sweet as it did for Becky and Harry.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.